Ian Kiaer- Endless house- thought models for dwelling

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Ian Kiaer makes work about making work. He makes paintings which directly respond to Malevich’s black square as the death of painting. He makes sculptures and installations which evoke the poises of non-making versus the praxis of making. Thinking space is offered in abundance.
In a humble and unassuming manner he presented his career path, with works also becoming progressively less prescriptive. This quiet humility is contradicted by his ascent to international recognition, with works invited for the Istanbul biennial among others.
What I found really interesting, especially in light of having recently received assessment feedback on my essay, was how driven Kiaer is by his love of critical art history. Relevant contextual engagement is essential to offer your work as contribution to current critical debate, but Kiaers passionate exploration of early 20th century and late 19th century artists and philosophers really grounds his work in a strong foundation which adds volume and form to his ‘tentative’ practice.

Insatiable- Art, Design, New Economics and Ecology

Andrew Simms: To change the paradigm, shift or bust, as artists is our ‘responsibility to make art which provides an irresistible temptation to see the world other than how it is’

A Chelsea symposium presented by the ever-inspiring David Cross, with a line up of speakers prompted by Barbera Steveni

Speakers included:

Dr Hayley Newman who introduced us to her 2006 project MKVH which took place in Milton Keynes. It involved a bus driving around the grid-based road system of the new city, on one full tank of fuel, until the fuel ran out. This work references the grid system and it’s origins in western art, first written about by S Krauss at the turn of the century. The artist was also referring to peak oil production and the consumption of fossil fuels. The film of the work was transcribed entirely, into a screenplay.

Michael Fehr from Berlin University of the Arts. He presented the proposition of an architect, made in the 70’s, for a futuristic survival structure for humans. Need to look into details, as I have it down as Gunter Ekhart’s Tube Continuum project, but can find no record in google-land. Comprised a structure to circle the earth containing living essentials for 4 Billion people, including housing, transport and manufacture and farming. I’m quite partial to extreme solutionist fantasies, and could see myself sealed in a little apartment, looking out at the scorched earth trying to regenerate itself…. sort of.

Marina Landia, also of Berlin University of the Arts talked about her audiovisual work addressing the global financial sector.

‘Every society clings to a myth by which it lives: Ours is the myth of economic growth’ T Jackson

Another illustration/explanation underlying the problem by which banks have become too big to fail, and now operate outside capitalism, being bailed out by taxpayers.

David Cross talked about Cornford and Cross’s work The Lost Horizon. This referenced visual culture and sustainability, with an applied semiotic analysis. Our ecological debt.
I seem to reference the work of Cornford and Cross so often, I won’t say much more now, suffice to say that the more I look at their work the more I realise how bang-on they are. Love it.

The highlight for me came during the presentation by economist Andrew Simms, who encouraged us not to be intimidated by economics, or the suits who expound on the fable of capitalism and economic growth. (Growth meant to lead to maturity, which is where growth stops and is maintained at a healthy constant. See the impossible hamster for warning..)
Ironically, the shirt and suit trousers he wore did give more gravitas to what he was saying, so I failed that test, but he talked about the following:

We have 50 months left before we go past the point where a 2 degree rise in global temperature becomes more, rather than less likely.

‘It is astonishing that capitalism works on the theory that the wickedest men do the wickedest things for the greater good’ JM Keynes.

‘Because of investor expectations, we cannot make the [renewable energy production] numbers work’ Shell Oil

‘We will not sacrifice the economy for the environment’ George Osborne. Heaven help us.

Mr Plimsol revolutionised shipping at a time when it was fundamental to our economy and empire with the Plimsol line, which made shipping safer for all. How about a petrochemical or ecological plimsol line?

To change the paradigm, shift or bust, as artists is our ‘responsibility to make art which provides an irresistible temptation to see the world other than how it is’

Herbert Davy proposed the subtle and complex economics of sharing. Better not bigger.

Edward Abbey simply says ‘Joy, shipmates, joy!’

*Do not burn yourselves out*

All that is solid melts into air.


Rebecca Fortnum

Rebecca Fortnum

Rebecca Fortnum

Always good to see an artist talk about life in practice, but especially engaging as we are familiar with the role Rebecca has as our course leader, the amount of time she gives to that. Maintaining a vibrant artistic output too. Reminds me of my first art tutor who told us how he used to have only the bathroom in which to work. Every Sunday he’d set his alarm for 7, go in there, set up a board over the bath and paint for 4 hours before going back to bed to wake his wife. This weekly practice sustained him until they could manage more space.

Seeing how Rebecca Fortnum’s work  has evolved, beginning with the BA in Eng Lit from Oxford- brings to mind Audrey Niffenegger’s artistic practice when expressed as a novel.

  • Authenticity of the gaze
  • Contemporary British Women Artists book
  • Women’s Hour
  • Skowhegan, Maine, residency
  • Arnolfini residency
  • Visual intelligences @ Lancaster
  • Artists process
  • contradiction, physical body, paint, silence, quietness, visual/ language (can see link to death ask drawings)

Silke Dettmers

The necessity of wonder. It’s a state of mind, the impetus behind her work, and what may come of it.
Her studio has pictures on the walls. Often these are of natural disasters.
Worthing beach.
Gare montparnasse.
Wondering about them sets off trains of thought.
Her leaning house and little people.
Great example of work which is a musing on a theme, not conclusive, opens further dialogue.
Eg Casper David Friedlich’s The Wreck of Hope being an allegory of industrialisation.

Dettmer talked about having a large studio space. Despite the running costs this is essential to her, as it gives her space to pile up all the bits and pieces which she wobbles. They get laid on top of each other, gradually forming an object-based pallette to work from. I can definitely relate to that.
‘My studio is, in fact, the place where I am working’ – Damien Birem, 2006
‘The studio as terra incognita’ – Gerard Byrne

Dettmer also refers to smaller scale collections of apparently unconnected objects, such as cabinets of curiosities or random displays such as Ole Worms work. Objects placed together with no obvious connections which then go on to suggest 3rd meanings.
In her approach to work and objects, Dettmer says she needs to see them in person, to experience smells and even touch them, because the object is everything.

It’s been 5 months since I heard all this, and in that time I have moved into a new studio myself. This all seems so exactly relevant to my practice I feel a reassurance that I am on the right track. Even if my studio is rather far from cavernous. For now.
Sharing with an illustrator and a sound artist whose beautiful works emerge from beautiful clean and tidy spaces, my junkyard in the middle is an hilarious contrast. It’s mine and I love it.

Dettmer also produced the ‘All Aboard’ photographic series, in response to being evicted from her previous studio to make way for the construction of the Olympic park. This also really grabbed me for two reasons: One is that it was a real 2D departure for an object based practitioner. Second is that the photos where featured in The Guardian after she approached them. Proactive. Find your own opportunities.

Fnally ‘ there is an optimism in making visual something which otherwise did not exist- in using reclaimed materials more related to narrative of object. This is verging on nostalgia’ which is something she is keen to evolve, so that things involve a little less looking backwards…

Love it

Graduate encounters: Rosalie Schweiker

Proactively personified, Rosalie Schweiker is really inspiring, bold and passionate.

Quotes which she is inspired by include:

‘ There are 3 kinds of artists-
1. Those who have LET’S DO SOMETHING said to them.
2. Those who say LETS DO SOMETHING.
3. Those who do nothing and fade away.’
-Bob and Roberta Smith.
This perfectly sums up how I feel too. I make work for people to look at. The more things I make happen, the more people will be able to do that.

‘The white cube of the gallery is the final destination of 200 yrs of privatisation of the self’
This one is harder for me to get my head around. The fact does remain that people do still look at work in galleries, it may or may not spark a thought in them, which may go on to start a discourse elsewhere in the world. I am wondering if presenting monumental public art contributes any more or any less, rather only differently. Public art, involving more participants, happenings which have a broader direct reach is not for me. And anything which I do present outside will absolutely have to be relevant to the space. Much monumental art is, but plenty exists which isn’t.

Wires outside our buildings

Walking for Graham Hudson round Embankment and Covent Garden, negotiating the interruptions in my journey for him, I became distracted by the hundreds of cables leaking out and snaking their ways back again into our buildings.


Cubitt Gallery Visit

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Cubitt is an artist-run space and has been going for 20yrs. They were showing Walk-Through, a film by Redmond Entwistle,  examining the role of critique and discussion at Calarts based on Michael Ashar’s 1977 post-studio class, which was based on Baldessari’s post-studio theory.

Critiques used to last for hours. ‘After 10 hours of looking at and talking about someone’s work, you absorb some of their subjectivity in making the artwork’

‘What you do at art school is preparation for what you want to do after’ No kidding. I am constantly amazed by the number of student who regularly miss other people’s crits. Participating in critical engagement is surely one of the main reasons we come to art college, or is that just really naive of me.

Cubitt is an active and engaged space where the artists who work there are very much all contributing to the running of the space on all levels. Engagement. Setting a good example of professional practice.